The adoption expense tax credit has been around since 1997, but it was set to go out of existence at the end of 2012. Fortunately, a part of the fiscal cliff legislation, passed by Congress and signed by the President on January 2, 2013 made the adoption tax credit permanent. (American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 [Pub. L. No. 112-240])
All of the ground rules remain the same as they were for the year of 2012 except that the amount of the maximum credit will increase, as will the numbers that define the lower and upper limits of income eligibility. All three of these numbers are adjusted each year in accordance with the cost of living. The maximum credit for 2013 will be $12,970 (up from the 2012 number of $12,650) and the full credit will be available to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of $194,580 or less. The credit will then phase out completely at an AGI of $234,580.
All of the other features remain intact, including:
- the ability to carry the credit forward in order to use it up,
- the ability to claim a flat credit (without the need to show actual expenses) for the adoption of a special needs child, and
- the ability to claim the credit in the case of a failed adoption attempt.
There is one limitation as the permanent tax credit is not refundable. It was refundable during 2010 and 2011 due to a provision of the health care legislation. Since this provision was not in the 2001 legislation (Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act) that was just made permanent, it is not a part of the current law.